Credit Card Statistics

Credit card statistics show economists and credit card users think a lot about the state of the economy.

Spending habits, average balances, and interest rate trends are just a small portion of the statistics constantly monitored and measured by organisations like the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).

Credit card statistics may be difficult to read but they do give valuable consumer data. Credit card companies use this data to measure the market and increase or decrease their offers, interest rates and a lot more. Most important of all, the Australian government will no doubt use these statistical findings to plan for the financial future of the Australian people.



2013 credit card statistics

Statistics from the Reserve Bank of Australia, Jul 2013

  • Number of credit card accounts: 15.41 million accounts
  • Credit card balance total: $49.19 billion
  • Average credit card balance: $3,198 (according to ABA statistics from March 2013)
  • Credit card balance total (accruing interest): $35.28 billion (72% of the total Australian collective credit card balance is accruing interest)

The credit card landscape is changing

According to the Australian Bankers’ Association (ABA) the average credit limit has fallen, as has the amount of our credit limit that we’re currently using. The average debt growth when it comes to our plastic has also dropped.

Chief Executive of the ABA, Steven Münchenberg says the change came about because of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and factors changes to how we make payments.

“…during the GFC, growth in the average credit card debt slowed significantly and it has not rebounded to its pre-GFC levels,” he said.

The statistics he gave certainly support this. We now only use about 35% of our credit limit on average – this is the lowest it’s been since 2001.

The average debt per credit card now grows at a number between 6-8%, compared at the 10% growth experience in 2003.

From then to now: credit card statistics January 1985 to July 2013

All data relates directly to credit card and charge card statistics in Australia during that time span and if you look closer into the habits of consumers you’ll find some interesting cycles.

It’s also interesting to note that during the early 1980s recession figures were down considerably; however, over the course of the whole time span, all figures in the data have risen gradually, if not sometimes a bit erratically due to economic influences.

  • Cash advance value in the millions

    Back in 1985 total Australian cash advances averaged $110.83 million.

    Conversely, in July 13, the monthly average was $886 million – a massive increase, supposedly to keep up with increased costs and spending.

  • Credit card purchase value in the millions

    Australian spending has also exploded upward. During 1985 Aussies spent on average of $546.58 million each month with the help of credit cards and charge cards. In July 2013 this monthly figure has increased to $22.97 billion.

    If you place these figures in direct relation to cash advances then you can see a massive hike in consumer spending. It seems that Australians have fallen in love with their cards and use them just about for most purchases made.

    This is no surprise as back in the days many people were still tossing up their opinion about the risks of cards as they preferred cash. There was also a much smaller population back in 1985 – 15.8 million versus the 22.68 million today.

  • Total credit card balance value in the millions

    Average credit card balances back in 1985 were $2.63 billion a month. In July 2013 the average monthly credit card and cash card balance was $44.19 billion.

  • Credit limits value in the millions

    Credit limits have risen from $7.533 billion in January 1985 to $139.95 billion in January this year.

    Looking at the credit card statistics over the past 24-years suggests that credit cards are here to stay. They are easy to be used and as long as you can control your spending urges, they can be taken advantage of because of their portability and ease of use.

  • Number of credit card accounts

    Evaluating credit card statistics helps you learn about how Australians spend money. An understanding of how many credit card and other accounts are open relates to the trends in spending choices in Australia. The numbers do not tell the whole story, but they do explain a large part of it.

    By looking at Australian credit card statistics you can learn a lot about how the way Australians spend our money has changed. Over the past 15 years the growth of credit card accounts has grown considerably while customer payment accounts (cheque accounts, savings accounts, statement and passbook accounts) has held steady. It should come as no surprise that the use of debit cards has nearly doubled.

    This means that the average Australian is carrying more ways to pay in their wallet, which should be a good thing. However, since much of the growth has been in the use of credit cards it likely points to most Aussies also having growing debt.

  • Debit card statistics for accounts

    • The number of debit accounts in May 1994 was at 12.46 million.
    • Debit account ownership in 2013 has jumped to 37 billion.

    Debit accounts have grown massively from 1994 to now. This could be a reflection of the flexibility of the debit card, a reflection of Australians trying to use more of their own money and less of their banks, or a combination of many other factors.



Balance transfer statistics

Interest in balance transfers has risen extensively over the last five years. The demand for information pertaining the topic is rising.

Credit Balance Transfer Interest over time Google trends

Balance transfer searches according to Australian states

If you drill down into these statistics you can also see searches done within individual states. This is important information for any credit-related business, as it shows what particularly locations are interested in credit.

Credit Balance Transfer trends - by Australian State Google Trends

Conversely, if you look at the other Australian states as shown in the figure above, you can clearly see where most consumers search for more topic related information on Google. It seems that NSW and VIC are where most of the credit card consumer action is happening in Australia.

It’s also interesting to see the growth prompted within the industry because of rising interest levels as shown by the next figure below. According to the screenshot there is a 600% growth over the same time period.

It also seems that our increased fascination with credit cards has Australians seeking better solutions in regards to credit balance transfer. With more people battling credit card debt, we need to come up with better solutions to help avoid those hefty fees associated with debt.

Most credit card clients are looking for an affordable way to transfer their existing credit card balance to avoid extra fees, which they simply can’t afford. Maybe this is a cue for more services to offer consumers an easier way to consolidate their credit card debt with a credit balance transfer.

Balance transfer credit cards

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2 Responses to Credit Card Statistics

  1. Default Gravatar
    Lee | March 25, 2013

    How many 18-25 year-old Australians have a credit card?

    • Staff
      Jacob | March 25, 2013

      Hi Lee. Sorry, these statistics are not available to us. Try the Reserve Bank of Australia. They publish credit card and charge card statistics.
      Jacob.

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